Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Ohio River Network building a newsroom that crosses state lines to cover Appalachian region

The Ohio River Network—a three state newsroom in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia—was created to turn competitors into collaborators by crossing state lines to have journalists in other locations work together to report the news, Anna Clark reports for Columbia Journalism Review. "The collaborative stretches across both cities and rural areas, reaching listeners that tune in from Athens, Ohio, to Whitesburg, Ky., home of WMMT/Appalshop, the legendary documentary outfit that is perhaps the most distinctive station in the network."

Ohio River Network, which consists of seven public media partners led by Louisville Public Media, wants to produce “hard-hitting, high-quality multimedia journalism that examines the region’s economy, energy, environment, agriculture, infrastructure and health," Clark writes. It was founded with a $445,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The $4.4 million venture, which includes partnerships with networks such as NewsHour and Morning Edition, "will eventually create 57 newsroom positions, including 11 editors, in places ranging from Little Rock, Ark., to Buffalo, N.Y."

Donovan Reynolds, Louisville Public Media president and general manager, said the "most pressing news doesn’t stop at state lines," Clark writes. "Louisville Public Media created the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting in 2013, a nonprofit newsroom that it is incubating alongside the three public radio stations that operate under LPM’s umbrella. It also expanded its capital coverage, in part by developing a newscast that it distributes around the state, laying the groundwork for the more far-reaching collaboration of the Ohio River Network."

Jeff Young, a veteran of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, one of the Ohio River Network partners, told Clark, “This is a place that’s been kind of beaten down over the years, and I think there’s a kind of fatalism. A lot of people in this region believe that in order to have economic growth, we have to accept environmental degradation and bad impacts on our health. We want to have good journalism around these issues that present some options for going in a direction that’s better and healthier.” (Read more)

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